Unified messaging (sometimes referred to as the unified messaging system or UMS) is the handling of voice, fax, and regular text messages as objects in a single mailbox that a user can access either with a regular e-mail client or by telephone. The PC user can open and play back voice messages, assuming their PC has multimedia capabilities. Fax images can be saved or printed.
A user can access the same mailbox by telephone. In this case, ordinary e-mail notes in text are converted into audio files and played back.
Unified messaging is particularly convenient for mobile business users because it allows them to reach colleagues and customers through a PC or telephone, whichever happens to be available. Some services offer worldwide telephone access.
This Buyer's Guide series offers and introduction to unified communications and discusses how unified messaging linked telephony and unified communications. Also learn why improved productivity is one of the many benefits of UC.